BY JOAN FLEISCHMAN
Raquel Woolin has been trying to unload her Miami Beach estate for years, especially after her mil- lionaire husband’s 2002 suicide. She asked $14.9 million. Finally, Woolin found a buyer: California developer Richard Meruelo, who signed a contract to buy the 2.35-acre property for $10.95 million. Meruelo flew to Miami for the July 29 closing – but Woolin was a no-show, he says.
Meruelo, 40, just sued Woolin, 59, in Miami-Dade Circuit Court. Woolin “breached the parties’ agree- ment by . . . making it clear . . . that she was reneging on the sale,’’ says the complaint, filed by attorney Dorta Law. Meruelo, who put down a $100,000 deposit, says he is “willing, able and ready’’ to purchase the home at 4949 Pine Tree Dr., but Woolin “simply refused to close.’’
Not so, responds Woolin’s lawyer John Militana. Meruelo defaulted when he failed to come up with a
second deposit – $400,000 – in a timely fashion, Militana says. “She does want to sell.’’
Meruelo wants the house. And, he’s asking the court to order Woolin to “consummate the transac- tion.’’
The widow Woolin wants to keep Meruelo’s initial $100,000 deposit – or up the purchase price to
$11.9 million, according to court documents and other correspondence.
The main residence, built in ‘37 for the Kresge dime store family and designed by architect Carlos Schoeppl, is on a corner lot, with more than 600 feet of waterfront on two sides. It has a marble stair- case, fireplaces and three-car garage. There is a tennis court, Olympic-size pool, gazebo – and two guest apartments.
The east windows look out at Seacoast Suites on Collins Avenue, owned by Meruelo’s parents, as well as the Meruelo family’s 120-foot yacht.
The Meruelo-Woolin deal even made the TV series Million Dollar Agents, which aired over the sum- mer on TLC. Footage included Sol Sotheby’s broker Carlos Justo showing the property to Meruelo and his mother Belinda – by helicopter – and later presenting the contract to Woolin.
Woolin has hit snags in a previous effort to sell the house. She and husband Martin Woolin, a real estate developer, signed a contract with entertainer Lenny Kravitz in March ‘01 for $6.8 million. That deal fell through. The Woolins claimed the contract was contingent upon Kravitz purchasing the fur- nishings for another $1 million. The dispute landed in court. Linda Marx Realty sued the Woolins for the lost six-figure commission – and the case has yet to be resolved.
Martin Woolin shot himself in the chest at home, after an argument with Raquel, on May 16, 2002. He died the next day.
The Meruelo-Woolin lawsuit is before Circuit Judge Leon Firtel.
Meruelo owns another pricey home here – in Coral Gables’ Tahiti Beach. He bought it in March for
$8.3 million, and three weeks later put it on the market for $11.9 million. It is still for sale.
Miami New Times “Kulchur’’ columnist Brett Sokol has left the weekly to write a book on Cuba.
“The intersection of culture and politics, particularly youth culture,’’ says Sokol, 34. “If you want to understand what’s going on in Cuba today and where the island is headed, you can learn a lot more by listening to the island’s hip-hop artists than you can by trying to divine the inner workings of Raul Castro’s mind.’’
Sokol has visited Cuba seven times. He learned Spanish in high school in Great Neck, N.Y., and took a year’s worth of Berlitz instruction in ‘03. His publisher is Wesleyan University Press.